Thursday, June 17, 2010

6 Arkansas schools may leave GSC; DSU optimistic

GREENVILLE — The Gulf South Conference seems to have caught the re-alignment fever.
After the nationally reported departure of Nebraska and Colorado from the Big 12, the talk of conference re-alignment has died down — until now.
Although not as well-known as the Big 12 and Pac-10, the GSC might reportedly have to deal with its own losses.
According to recent reports and Delta State University President John Hilpert, the six Arkansas teams in the GSC are in talks with three Oklahoma schools from the Lone Star Conference regarding starting up their own conference, which would leave only eight teams in the GCS — including only five football-playing schools.
“There will be (conference) meetings (next week in Birmingham). I don’t know when schools plan to make a final decision, “ said Hilpert. “GSC is taking action to keep the Arkansas schools in (the conference). They’re good members and it’s important to keep them around.”‘
According to Florence Ala. Daily Times, the six Arkansas schools are committed for the 2010-11 year, but could begin play as early as 2011.
Lone Star Conference Commissioner Stan Wagnon dismissed the talks of the Oklahoma schools departing to form a new conference.
“I’ve heard the rumors, but I have had no official conversations about anything,”‘ he told the newspaper.
DSU, along with West Alabama, North Alabama and Valdosta State are charter members of the GSC.
DSU Athletic Director Jeremy McClain said he hopes that all 14 teams remain in tact, but the school will have to move on if the rumored institutions do decide to leave.
“Obviously we’d love for them to stay,”‘ McClain said. “We’re going to exhaust every effort (to keep them). If they were to leave, the GCS is still a tough conference. We will have eight very competitive members. Regardless of the outcome, I think the conference is still very strong.”‘
One big problem does exist if the six schools decide to leave the GCS: six teams are needed to have a conference football championship, per NCAA guidelines; however, there would only be five teams remaining.
“It’s something we would have to look at,”‘ McClain said.
Hilpert remains optimistic about the GCS’s future.
“My hope is that we can continue as a 14 team conference,”‘ he said. “And I think that’s as great a likelihood as the departure.”‘

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